Anthoxanthum ovatum Lag.

small sweet grass

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Small sweet grass is an annual, morphologically variable species, that is native to southern Europe, and introduced to North America. It has been collected in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire in fields, roadsides and disturbed areas.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Leaf blade width
1–2 mm
Inflorescence branches
the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
Spikelet length
5–7 mm
Glume relative length
both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has no awn
One or more florets
there is more than one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
3.5–10 mm
Leaf ligule length
1–3 mm
Anther length
2.8–4.1 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    2.8–4.1 mm
    Anther number
    2
    Awn on glume
    the glume has no awn
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    the lemma is hard and firm
    Floret number
    3
    Floret types within spikelet
    all the florets within a spikelet are similar
    Glume awn length
    0 mm
    Glume keel
    the glume keels are smooth and hairless
    Glume relative length
    both glumes are as long or longer than all of the florets
    Glume shape
    the glume is V-shaped in cross-section
    Glume veins
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    Glumes per spikelet
    2
    Inflorescence arrangement
    • the plant has two types of spikelets with different reproductive structures
    • the spikelets are uniform
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    the inflorescence axis is straight
    Inflorescence branch length
    0.8–1.5 cm
    Inflorescence branches
    the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    Inflorescence crowding
    the panicle is somewhat to very congested (crowded), and the branches may not be clearly seen without close inspection
    Inflorescence length
    10–40 mm
    Inflorescence type (general)
    the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence is branched, and the branches do NOT both grow from the same side of the plant AND look like spikes
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn base
    • the awn is attached at the lower half of the lemma (it emerges from near the base of the lemma)
    • the awn is attached at the upper half of the lemma
    Lemma awn coiled
    the lemma awn is straight or twisted, but not coiled one half turn
    Lemma awn length
    3.5–10 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    the awn of the lemma on dried or older plants is curved or bent outwards
    Lemma cross-section
    • the lemma is V-shaped if you cut across the midpoint
    • the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma hairs
    the lemma has fine hairs between the veins
    Lemma keel hairs
    the keel of the lemma is rough, or has fine hairs
    Lemma marginal vein hairs
    the marginal vein of the lemma has fine hairs on it
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    • the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    • the lemma tip is split into two or more points
    Lower glume length
    3–5 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    the lower glume is one third to three quarters as long as the upper glume
    One or more florets
    there is more than one floret per spikelet
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is no extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off above the glumes, so that after the florets fall off, the glumes remain
    Spikelet length
    5–7 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    0
    Spikelet pedicel
    the spikelets have pedicels
    Spikelet pedicel length
    0.1–0.3 mm
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Upper glume length
    5–7 mm
    Upper glume relative length
    the upper glume is more than one half as long as the lowest lemma
    Upper glume shape
    the upper glume is widest at or below the middle
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives only a single year or less
    Rhizomes
    no
    Roots
    there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Leaf auricles
    • the leaves do not have auricles
    • the leaves have auricles
    Leaf blade length
    0.8–6 cm
    Leaf blade width
    1–2 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    1–3 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane
    Leaf margin glands
    there are no glands along the edges of the leaf blade
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    5–60 cm
    Stem orientation
    the stems trail at the base, but turn upwards at the tips
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Anthoxanthum odoratum:
leaf blades 2-6 mm wide, spikelets 7-9 mm long, and plants perennial with erect stems (vs. A. ovatum, with leaf blades mostly narrower than 2 mm, spikelets 5-7 mm long, and plants annual with geniculate stems).

Synonyms

  • Anthoxanthum aristatum Boiss.
  • Anthoxanthum odoratum L. var. puelii (Lecoq & Lamotte) Coss. & Durieu
  • Anthoxanthum puelii Lecoq & Lamotte

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Anthoxanthum

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our variety is Anthoxanthum ovatum Lag. var. aristatum Pérez-Lara.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

5.  Anthoxanthum ovatum Lag. var. aristatum Pérez-Lara E

small sweet grass. Anthoxanthum aristatum Boiss.; A. odoratum L. var. puelii (Lecoq & Lamotte) Coss. & Durieu; A. puelii Lecoq & Lamotte • MA, ME, NH. Fields, roadsides, disturbed ground. 
See Pereira et al. (2007) for rationale of including Anthoxanthum aristatum under A. ovatum.